So yesterday i couldn't wait to ride the L'Eroica course, today.... I can wait a while til i do it again.
I was all fired up to get the last few things sorted on the bike (lights and checking tightness of bolts) the second i knocked off work yesterday, when 3 people walked through the door within 2 minutes of close.
. "That's not a good omen" i thought, to which i immediately replied "Don't be ridiculous, of course it isn't, it'll be fine".
So i kicked off the ride nearly an hour later than i had planned, but set off with my legs singing, and the Univega roaring along at 40+kmh on the flats. On reaching the first hill though i was reminded why i don't ride it often, the road buckling 15kg weight makes climbing horrifically slow. I still ticked along all right though, got to Cooroy without any worries (the last 2 times i've done the course i haven't managed to get that far, on one occasion a crank arm came off, on the other the rider did!) and then set a good pace to Pomona. By this stage i had already ridden through several showers, but instead of acknowledging that the omen may have had some merit, i gleefully told myself that it simply meant i wouldn't have to worry about dust
After a tough slog along Jampot Creek Road i reached Cooran, with the light already fading quickly. The more sensible part of me entertained the thought of heading back to Noosa, but was, as usual, shouted down and i carried on.
Now during the day, the gravel roads through the forest around Tandur feel very remote. At night, they are bloody terrifying. Normally my 900 lumen magicshine is enough to keep me feeling comfortable but out there it felt like a child wandering about with a candle. There was a fair bit of rustling in the scrub beside the road but i was looking STRAIGHT AHEAD, i was NOT interested in knowing what was making any of the noises! While there were a fair few sections that had recently been graded and were in good shape, there were also plenty of stretches with rough corrugations and loose skatey gravel, and my average speed suffered terribly. Even on the good sections i simply couldn't go more than about 35kmh in case a pothole, wallaby or serial killer suddenly appeared from the gloom beyond the reach of my light, and a few times the firm hardpacked surface abruptly gave way to half inch thick ball bearing gravel while i was travelling MUCH faster than is comfortable on that surface.
I managed to clear the infamous Shadbolt Road without serious incident (though the rough and very steep downhill immediately after the crest had me clipping one foot out to regain some semblance of control) and got through Cedar Pocket well enough, though very slowly.
By the time i reached Kin Kin, it was 8:20 and i was cold, muddy, hungry and tired. I had the gel i had brought with me (that was all i had as of course i thought "it's only 100k i can knock that over in 3 hrs") and the first water since Noosa (the Univega has no bottle cage mounts, and again, i had thought it wouldn't take long) and thought about the situation.
The sea breeze that had been a welcome tailwind in the beginning had not eased off after dark as i expected, but was now a howling gale. That meant the remaining 50 or so kms (much of which is horribly exposed) would be straight into a headwind, and i wouldn't have a hope of finishing before 10pm. As luck (such luck as i was having) would have it, i somehow had enough signal to receive a text from Stef to let me know she had just finished work and was i still riding? Hmmm. Yes, as a matter of fact, i am still riding, and is there any chance you could pick up my pitiful self from Pomona? Naturally, being the angel she is, she met me with a smile and a towel after i rode there from Kin Kin at a surprisingly reasonable pace, and i managed to collapse in to bed some time after 11.
So lesson learned, do NOT underestimate the L'Eroica course! It's amazing just how much riding on the 'strada bianche' takes out of you, i had thought that my exhaustion at the completion of both L'Eroicas so far was due to the extended stops, which i'm not used to, but it seems that didn't have anything to do with it.
Of course my over riding emotion is disappointment that i didn't complete the course, the only reason i set out to do it was so that i could create a Strava segment for the full course and that will now have to wait. (I think it's possible to create a segment without riding it first but i'd rather not).
So today, shock horror, i didn't ride, and tomorrow....probably not! Maybe just a very light spin to make sure the legs don't get too used to resting, but i am very focused on Friday night's crit and i'm absolutely determined to do well.